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Varsity has made an early statement.
The side, which won just two games last season, claimed victory on opening day of men’s club basketball at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin on Saturday.
It rode a strong start to upset the City Rise Bombers 70-60. Varsity’s outside duo of Isaac Smiler and Kyle Owen proved key.
They generated much of the offence and contributed 25 and 14 points respectively.
Owen was particularly dominant early. He hit three first-quarter three-pointers, alongside a handful of good passes to allow Varsity to race out to a lead.
The Bombers offence struggled to get going and the students took a 21-10 lead at the first break.
Smiler began exerting his prowess in the mid-range throughout the second quarter. He used his strength to create a handful of looks that helped Varsity maintain a 39-23 lead at halftime.
The Bombers began to come back in the second half as veteran swingman Steve Robinson (20 points) started finding his scoring touch.
But eight third-quarter points to Hirini Edwards helped Varsity keep its buffer, before an 11-point final quarter from Smiler closed out the win for Varsity.
The St Kilda Saints put on a typically strong display to beat the Andy Bay Falcons 92-75.
Six players reached double-digit scoring for the Saints, Liam Aston leading the way with 19 points on the back of a good shooting day.
They led the whole way and while the Falcons had several runs to close the deficit, the margin rarely got closer than 10 points.
In the rematch of last season’s final, the Magic Lions beat the four-time defending champions Mid City Magic 102-93.
Both sides were depleted with their Nuggets players away at the pre-season game in Queenstown.
However, the Magic was more affected — missing seven players.
Dallas Hartmann continued his strong form from last year, having a game-high 30 points for the Lions, while Brent Cheshire top-scored with 21 for the Magic.